Tag Archives: British Legion

The Public Consultation – Q & A

The recent public consultation on the Council Tax threw up some questions that are best answered here.  Geoff Clarke of the Parish Council and Pat Dines from the Gotham Community Hub Ltd answer the main issues that were raised.

Are the Parish Council exceeding their authority to propose such a Council Tax rise?

GC: No. Parish Councils have the power to raise their Council Tax levy as they think fit. Moreover, they are not capped unlike District or County Councils. The level of your Council Tax is shown on your annual Council Tax bill. You are not able to pick and choose what you pay for and what you don’t. Adjusting the precept is what Parish Councils everywhere do annually. Ultimately Parish Councils like all councils are responsible to their electorate at the ballot box.

Were GPC acting illegally in trying to raise the Council Tax in this way and were they possibly corrupt in doing so?

GC: Parish Councils are advised to behave in exactly the way GPC did on this occasion and seek a public consultation for a particular rise such as this. They were acting in the village’s interest and were certainly not corrupt. As explained above they could have imposed this rise without consulting at all.

The plans for the shop and cafe were the wrong idea: wouldn’t the site be better developed to provide starter homes or sheltered housing for the elderly?

GC: I don’t think anyone would argue that there is a need for just this type of housing in Gotham: indeed the housing survey that is reported on elsewhere in Gotham News makes that point.  However this type of housing does not come about on the free market as developers will seek to maximise their return on the land and will always choose ‘market’ housing. With the Royal British Legion seeking market value for the site the only way that this type of social housing could have been achieved was, seemingly perversely, to support the Hub idea. Then the land would have been in village ownership and any housing in the future could have been planned based on local need.

PD: The conception of the Community Hub evolved from the Gotham Annual Parish Meeting held 28th April 2015 when 81 attendees voted “This Meeting believes the British Legion Site should be developed in such a way that will benefit our village and recognise that an enlarged village shop and post office is vital to the village community”.

This proposal was again endorsed at a Public Meeting on 4th June. Other uses were explored ie bungalows for the elderly but the minimum area required was 1.5 hectares for such a project. The British Legion site at 0.24 hectares is considerably less than this. The first flyer delivered to all households brought no further suggestions from the public.

As Individuals were involved in both the Parish Council and GCHL were they therefore too close?

GC: It is not unusual in a village of the size of Gotham that individuals will be involved in more than one of the voluntary organisations. This is recognised by Parish Councils and there is a strict Code of Conduct that all Councillors sign on taking office that involves making appropriate Declarations of Interest and specifies conduct such as leaving the room when matters are discussed. The two Councillors who were involved on the Hub Management Committee strictly adhered to this Code of Conduct and were not present in the room and did not vote in matters concerning the Hub. For members of the public to assert that there was anything improper in the behaviour of the two councillors privately is one thing: to assert this in an anonymous flyer pushed through doors with no evidence to back it up is in the opinion of some both cowardly and disgraceful.

PD: The Parish Council need to be involved and work closely with all major village projects to be an effective council. They were in a better position to nominate the site ‘an Asset of Community Value’ to halt the early sale of the site and give the Hub Steering Group time to seek assistance and advice in particular from the Plunkett Foundation. The ‘flyer’ indicating ‘vested interest of a few’ was deeply offensive to all endeavouring to obtain and safe guard this valuable asset for Gotham Village.

Is it not morally or ethically wrong to make investment in the project compulsory when a voluntary way is available?

GC: This is probably the key question in this debate and many well argued responses made the case that it was wrong. The Council took a different view that the provision of the Hub facility was part of village infrastructure that should be contributed by everyone in the same way that everyone pays for the dog bins even when they do not own a dog.

PD: The money raised by the Precept was vital to the initial investment but the eventual profits would have been put back into village via the Parish Council.

Was it right for the Parish Council to have expended costs on meetings, posters and the other literature some of which was of high quality with no accountability?

GC: All the literature and Hub costs were met by the Hub themselves and not by the Parish Council.

PD: The materials were funded either by a grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Trust or from donations from individuals. Nor were any costs incurred from Parish Council funds for meetings held either for the Public or Steering Group as these were held mainly in the Memorial Hall, free of charge, deemed by the Trustees to be for the public benefit.

Would raising the Council Tax have meant that the general public would be forced into subsidising private businesses?

GC: I can understand why this seems to be the case. Members who voluntarily invest in the Hub would have received an interest payment: those contributing compulsorily via the Council Tax would not. Also the public would be seen to help the tenants of the building run profitable businesses and make money. However the tenants would have been there because the villagers at public meetings said that they would be providing the facilities that they wanted.

PD: They tenancy agreements would have been at market rates. Excess income from the Hub can only be spent on the community of Gotham and is not paid out to members/share holders. A modest interest is paid out to members that is comparable to equivalent investment such as Building Society savings accounts. The whole principle of a Community Benefit Society like the Hub is for the benefit of the whole community and not for the members who invest.

Why was no mention of the possible Council Tax rise made at the public Share Launch meeting on 28th January?

GC: At the time of the Share Launch the Council believed that an ‘on lend’ arrangement could be made that meant the Hub would meet the loan costs and nothing would fall on the precept. We had been advised by bodies set up to help us that that would be true. Subsequent to the meeting of the 28th this turned out to be wrong and the Council made the decision then to seek to raise the precept instead.

Does the village really need a larger shop or another cafe?

PD: The Hub Management Committee were guided in the first instance by the business plans of the potential tenants and encouraged by the support of the villagers at public meetings. Visits to other Hub developments showed that these developments work and that the market for cafes is flourishing. The majority vote at the Public Meetings was in favour of a larger shop and the amount of financial input from local residents reflected this.

After several sites were visited by the Hub Steering Group to gather ideas, the Community Café was to be a separate tenancy and would incorporate initiatives to encourage more visitors to the area ie hikers/cyclists. Wall displays of local artists, of which Gotham abounds, local History archive storage/exhibitions. Encouragement to young entrepreneurs wishing to advertise their own products/designs ie wedding/party goods/jewellery/xmas goods and increase local part-time employment. The Memorial Hall is not suitable for all of these issues as it is closed except for bookings whereas users of the shop and café, other than locals would be able to access these.

Why was there no mention in the literature of the Spar shop owners investing?

PD: The Spar shop owners would have been faced with a significant investment of their own in refitting the premises. That was a significant risk for them and they ultimately felt the risk was too great. The Hub business was first and foremost about owning the site.

Why do we not house a visitor/information centre in the library?

GC: That is a matter for the County Council who run the library service. It is only open for very limited hours.

Could the Memorial Hall coffee shop extend their hours, then cafe would not be needed?

PD: The Memorial Hall Coffee Shop is now in its 6th year and is operated by four teams of 4/5 volunteers (including Trustees) on a rota basis. We have a small list of reserve volunteers for cover. To operate one extra session would require a further 20 extra volunteers. All profits are for further refurbishment and long term investment for the Hall. Due to the enormous efforts of Trustees/Volunteers past and present it does not require financial assistance from the precept.

Now it has been extended, surely the present shop and Post Office is adequate?

PD: If the present shop/post office closes the village will have no alternative site. Had this move to the Royal British Legion site been accomplished the Hub committee would be able to seek new tenants.

Minutes of a Meeting of Gotham Parish Council (01/03/16)

Present: Councillors, M.J. Sheppard, (Chairman) B.J.Walker (Vice-Chairman), J.P.Anderson, D.Bexon, A.Clayworth, M.Wilkins, G.Clark, G.Holbrook, H.Taylor. J.M.F.Royce, G.Hutter.

In attendance: Mr. and Mrs. S. Watson, Mrs. G.May, Mr. P. Harris, Ms. S. Dixon, Ms. S. Wilson, Mr. G.Harris.

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.

16/50: Apologies: Councillor C.Dabell, County Councillor A. Brown, Borough Councillor S.Matthews.

16/51: Acceptance of Apologies:
PROPOSED: J.P.Anderson. SECONDED: B.J.Walker. All in favour.

16/52: Declaration of Interest:
J.P.Anderson and M.J.Sheppard in matters relating to the purchase of the Royal British Legion site.(Items 7 and 8).

16/53: Minutes of the previous meeting:
Resolved: That the previously circulated Minutes of the Extraordinary Parish Council meeting held on the 16th February, 2016, be accepted and signed as a true record of the business transacted, with the following amendment: 16/48 Grant to Gotham Community Hub Limited: item 3) add: ‘An 80% majority vote in favour would be used in deciding whether to go ahead with the idea of recovering the Grant via a tax rise in the village’.
PROPOSED: J.P.Anderson SECONDED: B.J.Walker . Vote: All in favour.
Accuracy: G.Hutter suggested taping the meetings on a dictaphone in future would probably assist with the accuracy of the minutes. The Clerk thought this might be confusing when and if Councillors spoke together which can occur during the meeting.
Progress from the Minutes: Nil to report.

16/54: Public Consultation:
PROPOSAL: Suspension of Standing Orders. PROPOSED: J.P.Anderson SECONDED: J.M.F.Royce.
All in favour.

S.Watson asked for the result of the recent Public Consultation carried out in respect of the proposed Council Tax increase of £7 per annum on a band D house.
The Clerk reported, she had received 116 emails/letters of protest, the majority on inaccurate FORM letters, 33 letters in support of the proposal and 34 spoilt papers, (illegible signatures, duplicates). The number of electors on the electoral roll is 1,347. (May 2015).

A discussion ensued re the pros and cons of the process of raising enough capital to be in a position for the Gotham Community Hub to make a sensible bid for the RBL site in April, 2016.

Councillor A.Clayworth took great exception to comments made by P. Harris regarding the Council’s integrity.

PROPOSAL: Re-Instatement of Standing Orders. PROPOSED: J.P.Anderson SECONDED: J.M.F.Royce.
All in favour.

Having previously declared an interest, Councillors, M.J. Sheppard and J.P.Anderson left the meeting at 8.05 p.m.

The Vice-Chairman, B.J.Walker took over the Chair.

B.J.Walker spoke of the Parish Council’s best intentions to assist the Gotham Community Hub to acquire the RBL site. She outlined the history of the process, to date. The time frame of the consultation had been short, compared with other historic undertakings in the village, such as the refurbishment of the Memorial Hall. The 81 parishioners who had attended the Annual Parish Meeting on the 28th April, 2015 had supported the registration of the site as an ACV with or by a unanimous vote in favour.

16/55: Finance:
a/ Monthly Payments and Receipts
b/ GPC loan to £26,000 to the Gotham Community Hub.
c/ GCHL loan – Sources of Funding
Item c/ to be next discussed: Gotham Community Hub loan – Sources of Funding:
M.Wilkins called for Councillors who had invested in the Hub, to leave the room as they would have a conflict of interest, i.e. a capital gain.
G.Clark described the difference of ‘capital gain’ and ‘interest’. Investors would not gain from the Capital invested. The community will ‘gain’ a valuable site for the future.

P. Harris indicated his desire to speak.

PROPOSAL: Suspension of Standing Orders. PROPOSED: G.Clark SECONDED: J.M.F.Royce. All in favour.

Question from Mr. P. Harris.

‘Who will pay for the inside refurbishment of the building?’

Answer from Councillor G. Clark.

‘The Tenant’.

PROPOSAL: Re-Instatement of Standing Orders. PROPOSED: G.Clark SECONDED: J.M.F.Royce.
All in favour.

Two PROPOSALS were then put before Council.

1. PROPOSAL: As a result of the Public Consultation, which closed on the 29th February, 2016, that GPC does not impose a levy on the Council Tax of £7 per Band D house for a period of 20 years.
PROPOSED: G.Clark SECONDED: G.Holbrook. Vote: seven in favour, one against, one abstention.

2. PROPOSAL: That GPC resolves to continue to support the Gotham Community Hub Limited with funds totalling £100,000. This is to be partially made up of an £80,000 grant sourced, via a loan from the Public Works Loan Board. The first year PWLB loan repayments of £6,000 will be raised by way of cuts to the revenue budget.
PROPOSED: J.M.F. Royce SECONDED: A.Clayworth. Vote: seven in favour, one against, one abstention.

b/ GPC loan of £26,000 to the Gotham Community Hub.

PROPOSAL: That GPC resolve to provide a loan of £20,000 to the Gotham Community Hub Limited from existing capital reserves and accumulated current revenue and other underspends.
PROPOSED: J.M.F. Royce SECONDED: A.Clayworth. Vote: seven in favour, one against, one abstention.

The Clerk reported, the project to financially support the purchase of the former Royal British Legion site has been presented to the Public by way of a public consultation, newsletter and public meeting.

Councillor, G. Hutter spoke against the scheme as, in her opinion, it was not a sound investment.

J.M.F. Royce confirmed that the Well House capital fund is fully protected up to £10,000.

Ms. Dixon left the meeting at 8.45 p.m.

Councillors, J.P.Anderson and M.J.Sheppard returned to the meeting at 8.45 p.m. accompanied by K. Mafham.
Councillor M.J. Sheppard resumed the Chair.

S.Watson requested a further Suspension of Standing Orders.

PROPOSAL: Suspension of Standing Orders. PROPOSED: J.M.F.Royce. SECONDED: G.Hutter. All in favour.

S.Watson registered his annoyance that his overcharge for pruning clearance of the Railway Walk had not initially been paid to him, in view of the Council’s financial status.

PROPOSAL: Re-Instatement of Standing Orders. PROPOSED: J.M.F.Royce. SECONDED: G.Hutter
All in favour.

Mr. and Mrs. S. Watson and Mr. G. Harris, left the meeting at 8.48 p.m.

a) Finance Acceptance of Receipts and Payments:
PROPOSED: J.M.F.Royce SECONDED: J.P.Anderson. Vote: All in favour.

16/56: Report by Chairman of Planning and Development Committee:

The Chairman welcomed K. Mafham to the meeting:

K.Mafham had drawn up and circulated a report including his recommendations, as follows:

Rushcliffe Local Plan, Part 2
Ken Mafham Associates to prepare representations on the Rushcliffe Local Plan, now out for consultation with a deadline of 24th March, 2016. A copy of the Plan has been emailed to Members.
A proposed boundary for the greenbelt, shown on Figure B4 on page 92 of the Local Plan, that more or less follows the boundary of the existing built up area and allows for no open areas of any size to be excluded from the greenbelt.

That the current policy of allowing the redevelopment and intensification of existing St. Gobain complex, South of Gypsum Way, be carried forward into the part 2 Local Plan but the site is retained in the greenbelt.

The Waterloo Housing – Affordable Housing in Gotham:
GPC support a bid by Waterloo Housing Association to St Gobain for approximately one acre of land at the back of the Royal British Legion; to be developed for affordable housing purely to meet local needs.
It seems the funding is there: a suitable site is required. It is a rural exception scheme so needs to be a site that would not otherwise get planning permission. SG 4, the land behind the RBL is the most favourable and that is being pursued but there is no certainty as to the outcome. In a previous report two other possibilities were mentioned .

The Housing Needs Survey is currently being collated by Midlands Rural Housing and the results are to be made available by the end of March, 2016. J.P.Anderson reported there had been a 21% response to the Housing Survey.

The Neighbourhood Plan:
K.Mafham was previously instructed to submit a proposal to Rushcliffe Borough Council for the whole of Gotham Parish to be designated as a Neighbourhood Area. This has now been done. Further steps to be contingent on a report on the likely financial implications of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan.

The boundary shown on B4 would allow some infill development and redevelopment within the village envelope. The location and capacity of such sites is a proper matter for the Neighbourhood Plan.

Recommendation :
That the boundary of the greenbelt shown on the attached Plan B4 would allow some small sites for infill development/redevelopment within the village envelope.
The Local Plan is at an early stage and could well change over the next 18 months. The Parish Council may yet need the additional leverage of a draft Neighbourhood Plan for presentation at the Public Examination.

A Neighbourhood Plan can help influence the nature of St Gobain employment proposals

Positive proposals for the village

Control over quality and location of development within the greenbelt boundary

The St Gobain site South of Gypsum Way:
The draft Local Plan proposes that this be retained within the green belt but that some intensification of the site be allowed.

Recommendation :
That the policy be supported subject to safeguards regarding landscaping, noise and traffic which can be set out in the Neighbourhood Plan. The aim should be that any development should result in a net gain so far as environmental impact is concerned.

PROPOSAL: GPC agree with K. Mafham’s recommendations, as above.
PROPOSED: M.J.Sheppard SECONDED: B.J.Walker. All in favour.

K.Mafham left the meeting at 9.15 p.m.

Fracking: (M.Wilkins).
M.Wilkins had submitted an article on the latest developments regarding Fracking. Egdon Resources had been invited to a meeting at the Memorial Hall on Thursday, 12th May, 2016. A show of hands resulted in all Councillors being interested in attending the meeting.
County Councillor A.Brown sits on the NCC Planning Committee but has not commented on the subject.

The Chairman thanked M. Wilkins for his report.

Mr.P. Harris and Ms. Wilson left the meeting at 9.25 p.m.

16/57: Planning Applications Received: Nil

16/58: Planning Decisions Received: Nil.

16/59: Report by the Chairman of the Environmental Committee: (C.Dabell)
In the absence of C. Dabell, Vice-Chairman G.Holbrook reported the following matters:

Well House: A quotation of £550 for a new laminated oak finial and coronet had been received.
The original finial could be stored in the Gotham Museum.

Village Sculpture: G. Holbrook commented on the crocuses now showing around the Village Sculpture.
K.Hourd attempting to give the Clerk a date for the paving slabs around the village seat in front of the Sculpture.

Trees in The Square: The Clerk had not yet heard from Monty Haw, RBC arborist, re replacement trees for the dead Rowan trees. She had priced suitable replacement trees at approximately £32 each.

Gotham Litter Pick: Posters being circulated in the pubs and put on Facebook. (currently 115 Facebook members).
M.Wilkins to produce an A3 poster.
H.Taylor reported an ongoing problem with litter deposited opposite to Eric Elliott’s Transport premises on Hill Road. The Clerk to send the Company a Litter Pick poster in the hope they will undertake a litter pick of the site.

PROPOSAL: Extension of meeting beyond 9.30 p.m. in order to complete the business, as per the agenda.
PROPOSED: J.M.F.Royce SECONDED: J.P.Anderson. Vote: All in favour.

16/60: Memorial Hall Report from GPC representatives:
G.Hutter reported, the Trustees of the Memorial Hall had invested £10,000 in shares in the Gotham Community Hub.
The Trustees had offered support for a function at the Memorial Hall in celebration of the Queen’s 90th Birthday. The Memorial Hall bar and other facilities could open for refreshments for the community to enjoy the view of the beacon. M.J.Sheppard suggested another ‘Picnic in the Park’. (Official birthday celebrations – 11th and 12th June, 2016).

16/61: Policing Matters/Vandalism:
D.Bexon reported, the crime figures for February, 2016 were not yet received.
A stolen car, abandoned at the Leake Road entrance to the Logan Trail, had been reported to the Police.

16/62: Gotham News & Media:
M.J.Sheppard reported, the next edition of Gotham News will be delivered before the Easter weekend i.e. 25th March, 2016. More advertisers had applied to the Editor. The edition will enclose a reply to the Gotham Hub consultation.

16/63: Casual Vacancy:
M.Wilkins had invited an interested parishioner to the meeting.

16/64 : Heritage Day – Notts Bus – 90th anniversary:
Heritage Day: The Chairman suggested a theme based on what happened in Gotham 90 years’ ago. Earl Howe could be invited to attend.

16/65: Notts Bus – 90th Anniversary: M.Wilkins reported, a low key celebration is due to be held in the Sun public house on the 12th March, 2016. D.Bexon offered to photograph the advertisement for the event to post on the village Facebook page.

16/66 : H.M. Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations :
A dedicated working party is required to organise this event. The event could host a King/Queen dressing up parade, barbecue or hog roast.

16/67: Date of Annual Parish Meeting:
Suggested date for the Annual Parish Meeting – 26th April, 2016. The form of the meeting to be discussed as an Agenda item, at the next main meeting. (5th April, 2016).

16/68: Chairman’s Report: Nil to report.

16/69: Clerk’s report: (Best Kept Village Award 2016)
The Best Kept Village Award application form passed to G. Holbrook. M.Wilkins offered to photograph an attractive area of the village. Gotham won £100 new entrant prize for the Village Sculpture in 2015. (Environment Agenda item).

16/70: Matters to Report:
G. Holbrook suggested a polite reminder to dog owners about the increased incidence of dog mess being left on the pathways in the village. The Clerk had noticed tied bags of dog mess thrown into the adjacent fields or hedgerows, especially around the Railway Walk.

G.Hutter reported, an interactive speed sign is to be installed on The Ridgeway.

16/71: Items for Next Agenda:. Heritage Day Celebrations, Annual Parish Meeting.

16/72: Date of Next Meeting: The next Meeting will be held on Tuesday, 5th April, 2016 at 7.30 p.m.

Meeting closed at 10.00 p.m.

Public Notice – Club Closure 28 February 2015

20th January 2015

Public Notice – Club Closure – 28 February 2015

At the Special General Meeting held yesterday the decision was taken to close the Club with Saturday the 28th February 2015 being the last day of trading.

On what was a very emotional night for nearly all concerned a total of 47 members took part in the ballot with 26 of those voting in favour of the proposal to close the Club.

legionIn truth there were no winners emerging from this ballot – just losers!!

Without elaborating on the evening’s discussions and to summarize events the stark reality of our overall financial situation could not be suppressed or ignored given our negative trading position and our building maintenance obligations.

Once again may we take this last opportunity to thank all of our regular customers for their continued support over the past years.

Please note that we will continue to operate and trade as normal up until the said date.

Yours truly,

Mr. S. Kent

Club Treasurer

For and on behalf of the Club Committee

Proposed closure of Gotham Royal British Legion

15th December 2014

Public Notice – Proposed Club Closure

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that the Club’s present Committee have unanimously agreed that the Club can no longer continue operating mainly due to financial constraints and propose to cease trading at the end of January 2015. In accordance with the procedures a Special General Meeting is to be held on the 19th January 2015 at which a final decision will be made regarding this proposal.

legionPlease be advised that only fully paid-up members will receive a formal letter of invitation and they will be the only people allowed to vote on this issue.  

The financial constraints referred to above relate to the continued down turn in consumable sales, the liability for the maintenance and upkeep of the building. The situation has not been helped by the Club’s inability to attract new Committee Members, particularly in the positions of Secretary and Treasurer respectively.  

Whilst this was an almost inevitable outcome, given the policies adopted by previous regimes in not encouraging the younger generations, it is nevertheless extremely sad that another facility will be lost to the village and the surrounding areas.

The Committee would, however, like to take this opportunity to thank all of those members who have supported the Club over the years and would hope that you will continue to do so over the coming Festive Season as it will be business as usual until the final decision has been made.

To any non-members who may be interested in visiting the Club over the coming weeks please feel free to do so as you may not have another opportunity!

We should not forget that some 16 years ago the Club was pushed to the brink of bankruptcy following a period of unconstrained expenditure by the previous incumbent.

The fact that we survived that particular period and continued to trade was purely down to the unpaid voluntary work carried out by the few and whilst that still continues to this day it is, unfortunately, not enough to ensure survival.

Yours truly,

Mr. S. Kent

Club Treasurer

For and on behalf of the Club Committee